November 6, 2014

Amazon today announced a new hardware product called Echo. It’s essentially a speaker unit dedicated to being a voice-control system. It kind of sounds like Siri but in a speaker for a single room instead of in your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.

You can set alarms, control music, ask about the weather, search the web, ask questions, and access local news. It streams content via Bluetooth and WiFi, and connects to the Fire Phone (if you have one, lol), iOS via the browser, Android, and desktop computers via the web. Instead of “Hey Siri,” you say “Alexa” to start speaking the device. You’ll need a Fire OS/Android device to take full advantage, but music should work fine via iOS.

The whole concept is very futuristic, and it’s unclear how beneficial this will be to people with voice-controlled phones. But, hey, this comes from the developers of a faux-3D phone and delivery drones, so this is not completely out of left field. The Echo is $99 for Amazon Prime users, $199 for everyone else, and (for some reason) you need an invitation to receive the honor to buy one of these untested things.

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October 9, 2014

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October 7, 2014

iPhone 4S advert (Siri, guy in a car)

A new study from AAA on the potential safety risks of hands-free systems for vehicles warns Apple’s Siri presents a “relatively high” level of distraction. In its tests, AAA ranked use of Siri as a “category 4 level of mental distraction,” which puts it in last place compared to other hands-free voice controlled systems from the big car makers including Ford, Mercedes, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Toyota. It was also the only voice controlled system that resulted in two crashes in the simulator study: expand full story

September 30, 2014

September 24, 2014

September 10, 2014

September 8, 2014

According to a report from BetaBoston, Apple’s team in Boston working on its Siri speech recognition technology looks to be expanding as the company reportedly leases a new 13,000 square foot office. The report, which cites real estate sources, says the new office at One Broadway is in the Cambridge Innovation Center where Apple currently has a small team occupying two smaller offices: expand full story

September 2, 2014

August 13, 2014

When Siri lost its beta tag almost a year ago, I suggested it might be a good time for those who’d been frustrated with its early performance to give it another chance. What I discovered through your comments was that Siri seems to be one of those things that polarizes views: people either loving it and using it every day, or dismissing it as a useless gimmick. Not too many people seem to fall between the two.

But Apple has continued to work hard on improving the service, adding new capabilities as well as refining its ability to handle existing ones. It might not yet be as sophisticated as its creators envisage for the future, but a year on seemed a good point to revisit the topic and find just how many of its capabilities people are using …  expand full story

August 12, 2014

“Siri is chapter one of a much longer, bigger story,” says Dag Kittlaus, one of three of the original creators of Apple’s virtual personal assistant. The team, originally acquired by Apple as part of its $200M purchase of Siri, has now left the company to form a new startup, Viv Labs, to work on the rest of that story.

The vision described by the team in a lengthy piece in Wired is certainly ambitious. The problem with Siri, they say, is that it can only do things it has been explicitly programmed to do.

Though Apple has since extended Siri’s powers—to make an OpenTable restaurant reservation, for example—she still can’t do something as simple as booking a table on the next available night in your schedule. She knows how to check your calendar and she knows how to use Open­Table. But putting those things together is, at the moment, beyond her.

What Kittlaus and his team want to do is create a personal assistant which can learn to do new things for itself …  expand full story

August 1, 2014

July 28, 2014

July 14, 2014

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We have all used Siri to help use make a call, send a text, or remind us to do stuff. Over the years she has transformed into a gimmicky feature into a full blown virtual assistant.  She can all but play Flappy Bird for us and that brings me to my point can a device ditch a screen for pure digital assistant?

Last night I was laying in bed installing a few new tweaks in Cydia when my display died. I had my Beats on and was so mad that my display went off. Nothing would turn it back on. My home button was broke so I had no way to fix the software problem. I activated Siri with my Beats and asked to play Wrecking Ball. After a few other requested songs I wanted to text my girlfriend. I said to Siri “text ***** and tell her that she is the most beautiful girl I have ever met. After confirming she sent the text to her. Right After it sent I got an email. I had no way to look at it and so I had Siri read it to me. I was stunned by how many tasks I accomplished without even touching my screen. I even asked her how old certain people are and she knew, but then the big one came. My girlfriend asked me what special day was coming up. With no certain way of knowing which date it was and my life on the line I asked Siri and she told me. She literally saved my relationship. It is amazing what all I accomplished. The very reason I am writing this article is because the reminder I made without a display.

With all of Siri’s new features and acsess to information very soon she could replace a screen. Who knows maybe the iWatch will ditch a screen. Only time will tell but for now I encourage you to see how many tasks you can accomplish without a display.

 

P.S My iPod’s screen is now OK. It was a software issue with Cydia, but my home button has a major hardware problem that the folks at Apple will not fix. Just wanted to let you know so you wouldn’t stay up all night worrying about me and my iPod!!!

July 9, 2014

June 30, 2014

Nuance, the company that originally created the backend for the Siri mobile app that would later become the built-in virtual assistant in the iPhone 4S, has powered the speech recognition for the service ever since it launched. However, a new report suggests Apple may be looking to replace the company’s technology with a newer, faster system that could provide more accurate results.

A new Wired report cites several recent Siri-related Apple hires as evidence that the company is working on something big for the system’s next update. This isn’t really a new idea: rumors have been swirling since 2011 that Apple was investigating its own speech-to-text solution. That same year, Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky (not to be confused with current Siri Speech Manager David Winarsky) told 9to5Mac:

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June 27, 2014

June 23, 2014

June 2, 2014

As expected, Apple has announced new Siri features for its iOS 8 mobile operating system, including the ability to analyze and identify songs automatically with recognition powered by Shazam. You can also purchase iTunes content directly from Siri, and dictate text in 22 new languages.

Also included is a feature that recently hit the iPhone through a jailbreak tweak that allows you to summon the iPhone’s assistant by saying “Hey, Siri.”

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May 29, 2014

Even if you’re strictly an iOS user, you’ve probably heard of Android’s “Ok Google” command, which automatically brings up the Google Now voice control interface from the home screen. iOS doesn’t really have an equivalent feature. In order to bring up Siri, you have to hold the home button down for a few seconds.

Today a new jailbreak tweak called OkSiri was released that enables the same functionality on iOS devices. It works just like you see in the video above, though there are a few little annoyances. Keep reading for a full breakdown on the upsides and downsides to this tweak.

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